If you’re not familiar with basketball, you may not know the significance of the “starting five.” Each basketball team can only field five players at any given time on the court, and the first five players that the coach selects to start the game are usually the best the team has to offer. Being a part of the starting five is something that any player who strives for greatness wants to be a part of (at the very least). In other words, a Stockton, Malone or Donovan Mitchell would never be happy with a bench role, Jazz fans.
Mass Appeal, the recording agency out of New York that started from a popular zine, is promoting a quintet of talented artists. Their stop in Salt Lake City at Metro Music Hall was the perfect opportunity for SLUG to ask the artists of Mass Appeal about their “top fives” in various categories: musicians, movies, Hollywood stars, Nas songs, and NBA players. One-by-one, the artists came downstairs from the green room to meet me at a black [high]table by the bar, Fashawn, Ezri, Cantrell, Stro and 070 Phi. Here’s what they had to say about their chosen fives:
SLUG: Fashawn selected his starting five in the form of a band.
Fashawn: My five would be … I would have Barry White on baritone, at the bottom, and I’ll have El Debarge on the falsetto. I’d probably have like Carole King on background vocals. James Taylor on guitar and vocals. Stevie Wonder, He’d be the guru of the whole camp, he’d be the writer and he’d be sprinkling keys on everything. He and James Taylor together? Crazy group—crazy band…
Fashawn: “Smoke weed everyday.”
SLUG: Ezri chose to speak about his favorite films (with actors & directors mixed in).
Ezri: Top 5 Movies, and this is no particular order: Django Unchained (I like Quintin Tarantino). I like movies like Interstellar and Inception (written and directed by Christopher Nolan). I like American Gangster (Denzel Washington) a lot. I like Good Will Hunting (I like Robin Williams and Matt Damon). My old school classic would be Menace to Society. So yeah …
Ezri: “Starting 5 Tour, came to settle the score …”
SLUG: After some deliberation, Cantrell chose to discuss his favorite thespians.
Cantrell: Jim Carey, that’s my top guy. To go along with his humor, he’s such an intellectual. He cares about people. I love his insight, too. Health Ledger … because of Dark Knight. That’s probably my favorite on-screen performance, ever (that I can think of). Eva Mendez, ’cause I had a crush on her. That was my celebrity crush growing up. Will Smith because He’s the next GOAT after Denzel Washington. [After some thought] I’ma go with Regina King. For one, she’s been around for the longest—her longevity is crazy. Doing the voice acting —that’s legendary!
Cantrell: “To have a gift is to have a responsibility.”
SLUG: These are Stro’s top 5 Nas songs of the moment.
Stro: I’m a student of Nas. Of course, I’ma say (in no particular order) “Take it in Blood.” I’ma definitely go “Life’s a B*tch.” I’ma definitely go with “If I Ruled the World,” “Black Girl Lost” and “2nd Childhood.”
Stro: “Thank you.”
SLUG: O7O Phi (pronounced “0h-7-0h Fee”) chose his favorite ballers.
O7O PHI: I got Kyrie at point. I’ma put Klay Thompson at shooting guard. Then, I’ma put Kevin Durant at small forward. I’ma put Lebron [James] at power forward. Then, for center I’ma go with Demarcus Cousins. That’s my starting five, right there.
SLUG: Why is Lebron James your top player?
O7O PHI: Lebron is not only my top player because of how good he is at basketball, but I think no other player has stood up for what he’s stood up for so out there in the open. He started a school—that’s different. You can start businesses, you can make as much money as you can, but when you’re actually doing something for the culture, it means something, you know?
O7O PHI: “We some Storm Troopers.”
Each artist was cordial, thoughtful, articulate and unique in their own right. Who knows what the tour has brought them between Salt Lake and where they are at press time, but on their chosen career arch, I know they’ll be coming out with new material individually soon. In the meantime, you can check out their collaborative effort, The Starting 5 Tour Vol. 1 on all major music platforms.
Mass Appeal Top 5’s (In No Particular Order)
- Barry White
- El Debarge
- Carol King
- James Taylor
- Stevie Wonder
- Menace to Society
- Goodwill Hunting
- Jim Carey
- Eva Mendez
- Will Smith
- Heath Ledger
- Regina King
Coach: Denzel Washington
Stro (Nas songs *of the moment)
- Take it in Blood
- Life’s a Bitch
- 2nd Childhood
- If I Rued the World
- Black Girl Lost
070 Phi (NBA Players)
- Kyrie Irving
- Klay Thompson
- Kevin Durant
- Lebron James
- Demarcus Cousins